Perform Local Control

Use Adjustment Layers and their Masks to have more control
Click Images To Enlarge This Article Features Photo Zoom

Many digital files can be improved if an exposure adjustment is restricted to a specific area. A problem arises in that most software programs target global exposure adjustments. If this prevents you from optimizing an image, use Photoshop adjustment layers and their corresponding layer masks to take control of selective portions of the photo.

Step 1: Open the original in Photoshop and click on the Layers palette.

Step 2: With the Layers palette open, click on the “Create New Fill or Adjustment Layer” button. It's a half light, half dark circular icon on the bottom of the palette. Mouse over the word LEVELS in the popup menu and click.

Step 3: Adjust the highlights, mid tones, and shadows sliders until the part of the image you want

to target looks good. Ignore the fact that the rest now looks bad.

Step 4: Make sure the Levels layer mask is active - it will have a black outline around it. Click on the Brush and be sure the foreground color is set to black. Adjust the brush opacity to 50% in the Options Bar and choose a soft edge. Begin to paint over the area you want to restore. As you get to the edge where the transition
between the darkened background and subject touch, zoom in and adjust the hardness and size of the brush to paint in a feathered edge. Continue to paint back the good

tones until they're fully restored. The effect can be seen on the layer mask. The darker the area you paint, the greater the effect.

If you make a mistake and need to paint some dark background back into the image, switch the foreground color to White and paint over the area you want to correct. Be sure to use a very soft edge brush if you want the effect to look gradual.


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